The truth about history… Or how period TV dramas can miss the point

Historic fiction isn’t for everyone, and I’ll admit here and now that I’ve never read Wolf Hall.

Regardless, when I came to write about the rendering on TV of historical works like Hilary wolfMantel’s award-winning book, the main question for me was is it more harmful for people to watch TV dramas showing fictionalised accounts of real people.

The overwhelming response seemed to be that it doesn’t much matter, but that TV will always seek to ‘dumb down’ real events simply because an eight-part series delivered in hour-long chunks can’t possibly seek to represent the ins and outs of complex historical narrative in all their depth.

As it was, Wolf Hall – book and series – did seek to upset the received wisdom on historical characters like Thomas Cromwell and Sir/Saint Thomas More.

What the truth was about any of them is lost to history now, but there will always be theories.

Read the piece here.


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